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Southern Ireland and the Liberation of France

New Perspectives


Edited By Gerald Morgan and Gavin Hughes

This collection of essays sets out to correct an injustice to citizens of the Irish Free State, or Twenty-Six Counties, whose contribution to the victory against Nazi Germany in the Second World War has thus far been obscured. The historical facts reveal a divided island of Ireland, in which the volunteers from the South were obliged to fight in a foreign (that is, British) army, navy and air force. Recent research has now placed this contribution on a secure basis of historical and statistical fact for the first time, showing that the total number of Irish dead (more than nine thousand) was divided more or less equally between the two parts of Ireland.
The writers in this volume establish that the contribution by Ireland to the eventual liberation of France was not only during the fighting at Dunkirk in 1940 and in Normandy in 1944, but throughout the conflict, as revealed by the list of the dead of Trinity College Dublin, which is examined in one chapter. Respect for human values in the midst of war is shown to have been alive in Ireland, with chapters examining the treatment of shipwreck casualties on Irish shores and the Irish hospital at Saint Lô in France. Other essays in the volume place these events within the complex diplomatic network of a neutral Irish Free State and examine the nature and necessity of memorial in the context of a divided Ireland.


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Fergus D’Arcy Second World War Graves in Ireland 133


FERGUS D’ARCY Second World War Graves in Ireland Dear Sir, I understand that the bodies of some English soldiers from the S.S. Aran- dora Star have been washed up on the coasts of Donegal. Do you think you could put me in touch with the proper authorities as I would like, if possible, to undertake to look after their graves and to be able to com- municate with the relatives of those who were identified. Being English myself, I thought it might bring them some little consolation to know that their graves would be looked after by one of their countrywomen for as long as I would be able to perform this work. I hope it is possible for my of fer to be accepted. Yours truly, Iseult Cochrane. So wrote Mrs Iseult Cochrane of Stranorlar to the Department of External Af fairs in August 1940. Her letter and plea were far from unique: in the archives of External Af fairs and of the Of fice of Public Works it is only one of many similar letters from loved ones in Canada, Germany, Australia and many other places, as from Embassies and consular of fices from Norway to China, concerned with the fate in Ireland of WW II victims buried on this island. To begin with, I should like to contextualise the numerical and geographic extent of the subject by reference to the two world wars and by reference to Northern Ireland as well as the Irish Free State/Republic of...

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